Winter weather hits sooner than expected

Jan. 25, 2013 @ 06:00 PM

An earlier-than-expected surge of winter weather hit the Central Carolina area late Friday morning, causing cold, icy conditions — but the worst seems to be over, according to the National Weather Service.

Shane Seagroves, director of Lee County Emergency Management, said Friday afternoon that roads and other hard surfaces might remain icy or slick throughout the weekend, but that the gradually warming temperatures and small chance of precipitation over the next several days should help clear things up.

Friday, however, saw multiple weather-related morning crashes in Lee County, as well as reports of slipping in parking lots, he said, adding that no serious injuries were reported although such incidents easily can turn serious.

“[People] need to use a lot of caution, driving or walking, and look out for black ice and other slick spots,” he said.

Seagroves said the wintry mix that hit Lee County Friday wasn’t even what experts had originally cautioned people about, and had instead sprung up rather suddenly several hours before expected.

That led to last-minute changes and closings in much of Chatham County, most notably the schools and non-essential government services. Lee County Schools did close between noon and 12:30, but unlike in Chatham County, officials did not change the plan after it became clear the weather would get worse earlier.

There’s no school today, though, and with Central Carolina Community College, the Lee County Library and many private businesses not planning to open, Seagroves urged people not to drive anywhere unless absolutely necessary.

In a press release sent out Friday, the North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation said it doesn’t expect widespread power outages but will have people standing by just in case. There were no known outages Friday afternoon.

In case of an outage, people living in any part of Lee County or nearby parts of Chatham, Harnett and Moore counties can reach the local branch of the group, the Central Electric Membership Corporation, at (800) 446-7752 or (919) 774-4900. There are several other branches that serve various parts of Chatham, Harnett and Moore counties. A coverage map and list of contact information can be found online at http://www.ncelectriccooperatives.com/co-ops/coops.htm.

According to the National Weather Service, there’s a 0 percent chance of precipitation both today and Sunday, and temperatures will range from the low-20s to the mid-40s this weekend. Highs should be back into the 60s by Tuesday.